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1.  Activity of and Effect of Subcutaneous Treatment with the Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Lectin Griffithsin in Two Laboratory Rodent Models 
Griffithsin (GRFT) is a red-alga-derived lectin that binds the terminal mannose residues of N-linked glycans found on the surface of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), HIV-2, and other enveloped viruses, including hepatitis C virus (HCV), severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), and Ebola virus. GRFT displays no human T-cell mitogenic activity and does not induce production of proinflammatory cytokines in treated human cell lines. However, despite the growing evidence showing the broad-spectrum nanomolar or better antiviral activity of GRFT, no study has reported a comprehensive assessment of GRFT safety as a potential systemic antiviral treatment. The results presented in this work show that minimal toxicity was induced by a range of single and repeated daily subcutaneous doses of GRFT in two rodent species, although we noted treatment-associated increases in spleen and liver mass suggestive of an antidrug immune response. The drug is systemically distributed, accumulating to high levels in the serum and plasma after subcutaneous delivery. Further, we showed that serum from GRFT-treated animals retained antiviral activity against HIV-1-enveloped pseudoviruses in a cell-based neutralization assay. Overall, our data presented here show that GRFT accumulates to relevant therapeutic concentrations which are tolerated with minimal toxicity. These studies support further development of GRFT as a systemic antiviral therapeutic agent against enveloped viruses, although deimmunizing the molecule may be necessary if it is to be used in long-term treatment of chronic viral infections.
doi:10.1128/AAC.01407-13
PMCID: PMC3910741  PMID: 24145548
2.  Resistance to Infection, Early and Persistent Suppression of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus SIVmac251 Viremia, and Significant Reduction of Tissue Viral Burden after Mucosal Vaccination in Female Rhesus Macaques 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(1):212-224.
The efficacy of oral, intestinal, nasal, and vaginal vaccinations with DNA simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)/interleukin-2 (IL-2)/IL-15, SIV Gag/Pol/Env recombinant modified vaccinia virus Ankara (rMVA), and AT-2 SIVmac239 inactivated particles was compared in rhesus macaques after low-dose vaginal challenge with SIVmac251. Intestinal immunization provided better protection from infection, as a significantly greater median number of challenges was necessary in this group than in the others. Oral and nasal vaccinations provided the most significant control of disease progression. Fifty percent of the orally and nasally vaccinated animals suppressed viremia to undetectable levels, while this occurred to a significantly lower degree in intestinally and vaginally vaccinated animals and in controls. Viremia remained undetectable after CD8+ T-cell depletion in seven vaccinated animals that had suppressed viremia after infection, and tissue analysis for SIV DNA and RNA was negative, a result consistent with a significant reduction of viral activity. Regardless of the route of vaccination, mucosal vaccinations prevented loss of CD4+ central memory and CD4+/α4β7+ T-cell populations and reduced immune activation to different degrees. None of the orally vaccinated animals and only one of the nasally vaccinated animals developed AIDS after 72 to 84 weeks of infection, when the trial was closed. The levels of anti-SIV gamma interferon-positive, CD4+, and CD8+ T cells at the time of first challenge inversely correlated with viremia and directly correlated with protection from infection and longer survival.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02523-13
PMCID: PMC3911749  PMID: 24155376
3.  Impact of antibody quality and anamnestic response on viremia control post-challenge in a combined Tat/Env vaccine regimen in rhesus macaques 
Virology  2013;440(2):210-221.
Previously, priming rhesus macaques with Adenovirus type 5 host range mutant-recombinants encoding Tat and Env and boosting with Tat and Env protein in MPL-SE controlled chronic viremia by 4 logs following homologous intravenous SHIV89.6P challenge. Here we evaluated Tat, Env, and Tat/Env regimens for immunogenicity and protective efficacy using clade C Env, alum adjuvant, and a heterologous intrarectal SHIV1157ipd3N4 challenge. Despite induction of strong cellular and humoral immunity, Tat/Env group T and B-cell memory responses were not significantly enhanced over Tat- or Env-only groups. Lack of viremia control post-challenge was attributed to lower avidity Env antibodies and no anamnestic ADCC response or SHIV1157ipd3N4 neutralizing antibody development post-challenge. Poor biologic activity of the Tat immunogen may have impaired Tat immunity. In the absence of sterilizing immunity, strong anamnestic responses to heterologous virus can help control viremia. Both antibody breadth and optimal adjuvanticity are needed to elicit high-quality antibody for protective efficacy.
doi:10.1016/j.virol.2013.02.024
PMCID: PMC3744165  PMID: 23528732
HIV vaccine; HIV Tat; HIV Envelope; Rhesus macaque; SHIV challenge; ADCC
5.  Robust Neutralizing Antibodies Elicited by HIV-1 JRFL Envelope Glycoprotein Trimers in Nonhuman Primates 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(24):13239-13251.
Host cell-mediated proteolytic cleavage of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gp160 precursor glycoprotein into gp120 and gp41 subunits is required to generate fusion-competent envelope glycoprotein (Env) spikes. The gp120-directed broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (bNabs) isolated from HIV-infected individuals efficiently recognize fully cleaved JRFL Env spikes; however, nonneutralizing gp120-directed monoclonal antibodies isolated from infected or vaccinated subjects recognize only uncleaved JRFL spikes. Therefore, as an immunogen, cleaved spikes that selectively present desired neutralizing epitopes to B cells may elicit cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies. Accordingly, we inoculated nonhuman primates (NHPs) with plasmid DNA encoding transmembrane-anchored, cleaved JRFL Env or by electroporation (EP). Priming with DNA expressing soluble, uncleaved gp140 trimers was included as a comparative experimental group of NHPs. DNA inoculation was followed by boosts with soluble JRFL gp140 trimers, and control NHPs were inoculated with soluble JRFL protein trimers without DNA priming. In the TZM-bl assay, elicitation of neutralizing antibodies against HIV-1 tier 1 isolates was robust following the protein boost. Neutralization of tier 2 isolates was detected, but only in animals primed with plasmid DNA and boosted with trimeric protein. Using the more sensitive A3R5 assay, consistent neutralization of both clade B and C tier 2 isolates was detected from all regimens assessed in the current study, exceeding levels achieved by our previous vaccine regimens in primates. Together, these data suggest a potential advantage of B cell priming followed by a rest interval and protein boosting to present JRFL Env spikes to the immune system to better generate HIV-1 cross-clade neutralizing antibodies.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01247-13
PMCID: PMC3838230  PMID: 24067980
6.  Efficacy Trial of a DNA/rAd5 HIV-1 Preventive Vaccine 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;369(22):2083-2092.
Background
A safe and effective vaccine for the prevention of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection is a global priority. We tested the efficacy of a DNA prime–recombinant adenovirus type 5 boost (DNA/rAd5) vaccine regimen in persons at increased risk for HIV-1 infection in the United States.
Methods
At 21 sites, we randomly assigned 2504 men or transgender women who have sex with men to receive the DNA/rAd5 vaccine (1253 participants) or placebo (1251 participants). We assessed HIV-1 acquisition from week 28 through month 24 (termed week 28+ infection), viral-load set point (mean plasma HIV-1 RNA level 10 to 20 weeks after diagnosis), and safety. The 6-plasmid DNA vaccine (expressing clade B Gag, Pol, and Nef and Env proteins from clades A, B, and C) was administered at weeks 0, 4, and 8. The rAd5 vector boost (expressing clade B Gag-Pol fusion protein and Env glycoproteins from clades A, B, and C) was administered at week 24.
Results
In April 2013, the data and safety monitoring board recommended halting vaccinations for lack of efficacy. The primary analysis showed that week 28+ infection had been diagnosed in 27 participants in the vaccine group and 21 in the placebo group (vaccine efficacy, −25.0%; 95% confidence interval, −121.2 to 29.3; P = 0.44), with mean viral-load set points of 4.46 and 4.47 HIV-1 RNA log10 copies per milliliter, respectively. Analysis of all infections during the study period (41 in the vaccine group and 31 in the placebo group) also showed lack of vaccine efficacy (P = 0.28). The vaccine regimen had an acceptable side-effect profile.
Conclusions
The DNA/rAd5 vaccine regimen did not reduce either the rate of HIV-1 acquisition or the viral-load set point in the population studied. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00865566.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1310566
PMCID: PMC4030634  PMID: 24099601
7.  Immunization of Rabbits with Highly Purified, Soluble, Trimeric Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Envelope Glycoprotein Induces a Vigorous B Cell Response and Broadly Cross-Reactive Neutralization 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98060.
Previously we described induction of cross-reactive HIV-1 neutralizing antibody responses in rabbits using a soluble HIV-1 gp140 envelope glycoprotein (Env) in an adjuvant containing monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL) and QS21 (AS02A). Here, we compared different forms of the same HIV-1 strain R2 Env for antigenic and biophysical characteristics, and in rabbits characterized the extent of B cell induction for specific antibody expression and secretion and neutralizing responses. The forms of this Env that were produced in and purified from stably transformed 293T cells included a primarily dimeric gp140, a trimeric gp140 appended to a GCN4 trimerization domain (gp140-GCN4), gp140-GCN4 with a 15 amino acid flexible linker between the gp120 and gp41 ectodomain (gp140-GCN4-L), also trimeric, and a gp140 with the flexible linker purified from cell culture supernatants as either dimer (gp140-L(D)) or monomer (gp140-L(M)). Multimeric states of the Env proteins were assessed by native gel electrophoresis and analytical ultracentrifugation. The different forms of gp140 bound broadly cross-reactive neutralizing (BCN) human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) similarly in ELISA and immunoprecipitation assays. All Envs bound CD4i mAbs in the presence and absence of sCD4, as reported for the R2 Env. Weak neutralization of some strains of HIV-1 was seen after two additional doses in AS02A. Rabbits that were given a seventh dose of gp140-GCN4-L developed BCN responses that were weak to moderate, similar to our previous report. The specificity of these responses did not appear similar to that of any of the known BCN human mAbs. Induction of spleen B cell and plasma cells producing immunoglobulins that bound trimeric gp140-GCN4-L was vigorous, based on ELISpot and flow cytometry analyses. The results demonstrate that highly purified gp140-GCN4-L trimer in adjuvant elicits BCN responses in rabbits accompanied by vigorous B cell induction.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098060
PMCID: PMC4028264  PMID: 24846288
8.  Effects of Cellular Activation on Anti-HIV-1 Restriction Factor Expression Profile in Primary Cells 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(21):11924-11929.
Expression of cell-intrinsic antiviral factors suppresses HIV-1 replication. We hypothesized that cellular activation modulates host restriction and susceptibility to HIV-1 infection. We measured the gene expression of 34 antiviral factors in healthy peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Cellular activation induced expression of interferon-stimulated gene 15 (ISG15), tripartite motif 5α (TRIM5α), bone marrow stromal cell antigen 2 (BST-2)/tetherin, and certain apolipoprotein B mRNA editing enzyme 3 (APOBEC3) family members. Expression of RTF1, RNA polymerase II-associated factor 1 (PAF1), TRIM11, TRIM26, and BST-2/tetherin correlated with decreased HIV-1 infectivity. This report demonstrates synchronous effects of activation-induced antiviral genes on HIV-1 infectivity, providing candidates for pharmacological manipulation.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02128-13
PMCID: PMC3807358  PMID: 23966394
9.  Lack of B Cell Dysfunction Is Associated with Functional, gp120-Dominant Antibody Responses in Breast Milk of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected African Green Monkeys 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(20):11121-11134.
The design of an effective vaccine to reduce the incidence of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) via breastfeeding will require identification of protective immune responses that block postnatal virus acquisition. Natural hosts of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) sustain nonpathogenic infection and rarely transmit the virus to their infants despite high milk virus RNA loads. This is in contrast to HIV-infected women and SIV-infected rhesus macaques (RhMs), nonnatural hosts which exhibit higher rates of postnatal virus transmission. In this study, we compared the systemic and mucosal B cell responses of lactating, SIV-infected African green monkeys (AGMs), a natural host species, to that of SIV-infected RhMs and HIV-infected women. AGMs did not demonstrate hypergammaglobulinemia or accumulate circulating memory B cells during chronic SIV infection. Moreover, the milk of SIV-infected AGMs contained higher proportions of naive B cells than RhMs. Interestingly, AGMs exhibited robust milk and plasma Env binding antibody responses that were one to two logs higher than those in RhMs and humans and demonstrated autologous neutralizing responses in milk at 1 year postinfection. Furthermore, the plasma and milk Env gp120-binding antibody responses were equivalent to or predominant over Env gp140-binding antibody responses in AGMs, in contrast to that in RhMs and humans. The strong gp120-specific, functional antibody responses in the milk of SIV-infected AGMs may contribute to the rarity of postnatal transmission observed in natural SIV hosts.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01887-13
PMCID: PMC3807290  PMID: 23926338
10.  DNA and Protein Co-Immunization Improves the Magnitude and Longevity of Humoral Immune Responses in Macaques 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91550.
We tested the concept of combining DNA with protein to improve anti-HIV Env systemic and mucosal humoral immune responses. Rhesus macaques were vaccinated with DNA, DNA&protein co-immunization or DNA prime followed by protein boost, and the magnitude and mucosal dissemination of the antibody responses were monitored in both plasma and mucosal secretions. We achieved induction of robust humoral responses by optimized DNA vaccination delivered by in vivo electroporation. These responses were greatly increased upon administration of a protein boost. Importantly, a co-immunization regimen of DNA&protein injected in the same muscle at the same time induced the highest systemic binding and neutralizing antibodies to homologous or heterologous Env as well as the highest Env-specific IgG in saliva. Inclusion of protein in the vaccine resulted in more immunized animals with Env-specific IgG in rectal fluids. Inclusion of DNA in the vaccine significantly increased the longevity of systemic humoral immune responses, whereas protein immunization, either as the only vaccine component or as boost after DNA prime, was followed by a great decline of humoral immune responses overtime. We conclude that DNA&protein co-delivery in a simple vaccine regimen combines the strength of each vaccine component, resulting in improved magnitude, extended longevity and increased mucosal dissemination of the induced antibodies in immunized rhesus macaques.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091550
PMCID: PMC3953433  PMID: 24626482
11.  An autoreactive antibody from an SLE/HIV-1 individual broadly neutralizes HIV-1 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(4):1835-1843.
Broadly HIV-1–neutralizing antibodies (BnAbs) display one or more unusual traits, including a long heavy chain complementarity-determining region 3 (HCDR3), polyreactivity, and high levels of somatic mutations. These shared characteristics suggest that BnAb development might be limited by immune tolerance controls. It has been postulated that HIV-1–infected individuals with autoimmune disease and defective immune tolerance mechanisms may produce BnAbs more readily than those without autoimmune diseases. In this study, we identified an HIV-1–infected individual with SLE who exhibited controlled viral load (<5,000 copies/ml) in the absence of controlling HLA phenotypes and developed plasma HIV-1 neutralization breadth. We collected memory B cells from this individual and isolated a BnAb, CH98, that targets the CD4 binding site (CD4bs) of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein 120 (gp120). CH98 bound to human antigens including dsDNA, which is specifically associated with SLE. Anti-dsDNA reactivity was also present in the patient’s plasma. CH98 had a mutation frequency of 25% and 15% nt somatic mutations in the heavy and light chain variable domains, respectively, a long HCDR3, and a deletion in the light chain CDR1. The occurrence of anti-dsDNA reactivity by a HIV-1 CD4bs BnAb in an individual with SLE raises the possibility that some BnAbs and SLE-associated autoantibodies arise from similar pools of B cells.
doi:10.1172/JCI73441
PMCID: PMC3973118  PMID: 24614107
12.  Short Communication: HIV Type 1 Subtype C Variants Transmitted Through the Bottleneck of Breastfeeding Are Sensitive to New Generation Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies Directed Against Quaternary and CD4-Binding Site Epitopes 
Abstract
Mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 subtype C can occur in utero, intrapartum, or via breast milk exposure. While not well understood, there are putative differences in the mechanisms involved with the distinct routes of vertical HIV transmission. Here, we address the question of whether specific viral characteristics are common to variants transmitted through breastfeeding that may facilitate evasion of innate or adaptive immune responses. We amplified the envelope gene (env) from the plasma of six infants during acute infection who were infected with HIV-1 subtype C through breastfeeding, and from three available matched maternal samples. We sequenced the full-length env genes in these subjects revealing heterogeneous viral populations in the mothers and homogeneous populations in the infants. In five infants, the viral population arose from a single variant, while two variants were detected in the remaining infant. Infant env sequences had fewer N-linked glycosylation sites and shorter sequences than those of the available matched maternal samples. Though the small size of the study precluded our ability to test statistical significance, these results are consistent with selection for virus with shorter variable loops and fewer glycosylation sites during transmission of HIV-1 subtype C in other settings. Transmitted envs were resistant to neutralization by antibodies 2G12 and 2F5, but were generally sensitive to the more broadly neutralizing PG9, PG16, and VRC01, indicating that this new generation of broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies could be efficacious in passive immunization strategies.
doi:10.1089/aid.2012.0197
PMCID: PMC3581069  PMID: 23075434
13.  A Novel Rabbit Monoclonal Antibody Platform To Dissect the Diverse Repertoire of Antibody Epitopes for HIV-1 Env Immunogen Design 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(18):10232-10243.
The majority of available monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) in the current HIV vaccine field are generated from HIV-1-infected people. In contrast, preclinical immunogenicity studies have mainly focused on polyclonal antibody responses in experimental animals. Although rabbits have been widely used for antibody studies, there has been no report of using rabbit MAbs to dissect the specificity of antibody responses for AIDS vaccine development. Here we report on the production of a panel of 12 MAbs from a New Zealand White (NZW) rabbit that was immunized with an HIV-1 JR-FL gp120 DNA prime and protein boost vaccination regimen. These rabbit MAbs recognized a diverse repertoire of envelope (Env) epitopes ranging from the highly immunogenic V3 region to several previously underappreciated epitopes in the C1, C4, and C5 regions. Nine MAbs showed cross-reactivity to gp120s of clades other than clade B. Increased somatic mutation and extended CDR3 were observed with Ig genes of several molecularly cloned rabbit MAbs. Phylogenic tree analysis showed that the heavy chains of MAbs recognizing the same region on gp120 tend to segregate into an independent subtree. At least three rabbit MAbs showed neutralizing activities with various degrees of breadth and potency. The establishment of this rabbit MAb platform will significantly enhance our ability to test optimal designs of Env immunogens to gain a better understanding of the structural specificity and evolution process of Env-specific antibody responses elicited by candidate AIDS vaccines.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00837-13
PMCID: PMC3754024  PMID: 23864612
14.  Molecular identification, cloning and characterization of transmitted/founder HIV-1 subtype A, D and A/D infectious molecular clones 
Virology  2012;436(1):33-48.
We report the molecular identification, cloning and initial biological characterization of 12 full-length HIV-1 subtype A, D and A/D recombinant transmitted/founder (T/F) genomes. T/F genomes contained intact canonical open reading frames and all T/F viruses were replication competent in primary human T-cells, although subtype D virus replication was more efficient (p<0.05). All 12 viruses utilized CCR5 but not CXCR4 as a co-receptor for entry and exhibited a neutralization profile typical of tier 2 primary virus strains, with significant differences observed between subtype A and D viruses with respect to sensitivity to monoclonal antibodies VRC01, PG9 and PG16 and polyclonal subtype C anti-HIV IgG (p<0.05 for each). The present report doubles the number of T/F HIV-1 clones available for pathogenesis and vaccine research and extends their representation to include subtypes A, B, C and D.
doi:10.1016/j.virol.2012.10.009
PMCID: PMC3545109  PMID: 23123038
HIV-1; transmitted/founder virus; single genome sequencing; HIV-1 transmission; HIV-1 subtype A; HIV-1 subtype D; neutralizing antibodies
15.  Vaccine-Induced IgG Antibodies to V1V2 Regions of Multiple HIV-1 Subtypes Correlate with Decreased Risk of HIV-1 Infection 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87572.
In the RV144 HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trial, IgG antibody (Ab) binding levels to variable regions 1 and 2 (V1V2) of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120 were an inverse correlate of risk of HIV-1 infection. To determine if V1V2-specific Abs cross-react with V1V2 from different HIV-1 subtypes, if the nature of the V1V2 antigen used to asses cross-reactivity influenced infection risk, and to identify immune assays for upcoming HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trials, new V1V2-scaffold antigens were designed and tested. Protein scaffold antigens carrying the V1V2 regions from HIV-1 subtypes A, B, C, D or CRF01_AE were assayed in pilot studies, and six were selected to assess cross-reactive Abs in the plasma from the original RV144 case-control cohort (41 infected vaccinees, 205 frequency-matched uninfected vaccinees, and 40 placebo recipients) using ELISA and a binding Ab multiplex assay. IgG levels to these antigens were assessed as correlates of risk in vaccine recipients using weighted logistic regression models. Levels of Abs reactive with subtype A, B, C and CRF01_AE V1V2-scaffold antigens were all significant inverse correlates of risk (p-values of 0.0008–0.05; estimated odds ratios of 0.53–0.68 per 1 standard deviation increase). Thus, levels of vaccine-induced IgG Abs recognizing V1V2 regions from multiple HIV-1 subtypes, and presented on different scaffolds, constitute inverse correlates of risk for HIV-1 infection in the RV144 vaccine trial. The V1V2 antigens provide a link between RV144 and upcoming HIV-1 vaccine trials, and identify reagents and methods for evaluating V1V2 Abs as possible correlates of protection against HIV-1 infection.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00223080
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087572
PMCID: PMC3913641  PMID: 24504509
16.  Correction: Comparative Immunogenicity of HIV-1 gp160, gp140 and gp120 Expressed by Live Attenuated Newcastle Disease Virus Vector 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):10.1371/annotation/670112f8-b4fd-4622-8a8c-203dc647f807.
doi:10.1371/annotation/670112f8-b4fd-4622-8a8c-203dc647f807
PMCID: PMC3906168
17.  Vaccine Induction of Antibodies Against a Structurally Heterogeneous Site of Immune Pressure within HIV-1 Envelope Protein Variable Regions 1 and 2 
Immunity  2013;38(1):176-186.
Summary
The RV144 HIV-1 trial of the canary pox vector (ALVAC-HIV) plus the gp120 AIDSVAX B/E vaccine demonstrated an estimated efficacy of 31%, that correlated directly with antibodies to HIV-1 envelope variable regions 1 and 2 (V1–V2). Genetic analysis of trial viruses revealed increased vaccine efficacy against viruses matching the vaccine strain at V2 residue 169. Here, we isolated four V2 monoclonal antibodies from RV144 vaccinees that recognize residue 169, neutralize laboratory-adapted HIV-1, and mediate killing of field isolate HIV-1-infected CD4+ T cells. Crystal structures of two of the V2 antibodies demonstrated residue 169 can exist within divergent helical and loop conformations, which contrasted dramatically with the beta strand conformation previously observed with a broadly neutralizing antibody PG9. Thus, RV144 vaccine-induced immune pressure appears to target a region that may be both sequence variable and structurally polymorphic. Variation may signal sites of HIV-1 envelope vulnerability, providing vaccine designers with new options.
doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2012.11.011
PMCID: PMC3569735  PMID: 23313589
18.  Passive immunization of macaques with polyclonal anti-SHIV IgG against a heterologous tier 2 SHIV: outcome depends on IgG dose 
Retrovirology  2014;11:8.
Background
A key goal for HIV-1 envelope immunogen design is the induction of cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies (nAbs). As AIDS vaccine recipients will not be exposed to strains exactly matching any immunogens due to multiple HIV-1 quasispecies circulating in the human population worldwide, heterologous SHIV challenges are essential for realistic vaccine efficacy testing in primates. We assessed whether polyclonal IgG, isolated from rhesus monkeys (RMs) with high-titer nAbs (termed SHIVIG), could protect RMs against the R5-tropic tier-2 SHIV-2873Nip, which was heterologous to the viruses or HIV-1 envelopes that had elicited SHIVIG.
Results
SHIVIG demonstrated binding to HIV Gag, Tat, and Env of different clades and competed with the broadly neutralizing antibodies b12, VRC01, 4E10, and 17b. SHIVIG neutralized tier 1 and tier 2 viruses, including SHIV-2873Nip. NK-cell depletion decreased the neutralizing activity of SHIVIG 20-fold in PBMC assays. Although SHIVIG neutralized SHIV-2873Nip in vitro, this polyclonal IgG preparation failed to prevent acquisition after repeated intrarectal low-dose virus challenges, but at a dose of 400 mg/kg, it significantly lowered peak viremia (P = 0.001). Unexpectedly, single-genome analysis revealed a higher number of transmitted variants at the low dose of 25 mg/kg, implying increased acquisition at low SHIVIG levels. In vitro, SHIVIG demonstrated complement-mediated Ab-dependent enhancement of infection (C’-ADE) at concentrations similar to those observed in plasmas of RMs treated with 25 mg/kg of SHIVIG.
Conclusion
Our primate model data suggest a dual role for polyclonal anti-HIV-1 Abs depending on plasma levels upon virus encounter.
doi:10.1186/1742-4690-11-8
PMCID: PMC3905655  PMID: 24444350
Macaque model; Heterologous R5 SHIV clade C challenge; SHIVIG; Passive immunization; Enhancement of infection; Non-human primate model
19.  Comparison of Viral Env Proteins from Acute and Chronic Infections with Subtype C Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Identifies Differences in Glycosylation and CCR5 Utilization and Suggests a New Strategy for Immunogen Design 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(13):7218-7233.
Understanding human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) transmission is central to developing effective prevention strategies, including a vaccine. We compared phenotypic and genetic variation in HIV-1 env genes from subjects in acute/early infection and subjects with chronic infections in the context of subtype C heterosexual transmission. We found that the transmitted viruses all used CCR5 and required high levels of CD4 to infect target cells, suggesting selection for replication in T cells and not macrophages after transmission. In addition, the transmitted viruses were more likely to use a maraviroc-sensitive conformation of CCR5, perhaps identifying a feature of the target T cell. We confirmed an earlier observation that the transmitted viruses were, on average, modestly underglycosylated relative to the viruses from chronically infected subjects. This difference was most pronounced in comparing the viruses in acutely infected men to those in chronically infected women. These features of the transmitted virus point to selective pressures during the transmission event. We did not observe a consistent difference either in heterologous neutralization sensitivity or in sensitivity to soluble CD4 between the two groups, suggesting similar conformations between viruses from acute and chronic infection. However, the presence or absence of glycosylation sites had differential effects on neutralization sensitivity for different antibodies. We suggest that the occasional absence of glycosylation sites encoded in the conserved regions of env, further reduced in transmitted viruses, could expose specific surface structures on the protein as antibody targets.
doi:10.1128/JVI.03577-12
PMCID: PMC3700278  PMID: 23616655
20.  Pre-Clinical Development of a Recombinant, Replication-Competent Adenovirus Serotype 4 Vector Vaccine Expressing HIV-1 Envelope 1086 Clade C 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82380.
Background
There is a well-acknowledged need for an effective AIDS vaccine that protects against HIV-1 infection or limits in vivo viral replication. The objective of these studies is to develop a replication-competent, vaccine vector based on the adenovirus serotype 4 (Ad4) virus expressing HIV-1 envelope (Env) 1086 clade C glycoprotein. Ad4 recombinant vectors expressing Env gp160 (Ad4Env160), Env gp140 (Ad4Env140), and Env gp120 (Ad4Env120) were evaluated.
Methods
The recombinant Ad4 vectors were generated with a full deletion of the E3 region of Ad4 to accommodate the env gene sequences. The vaccine candidates were assessed in vitro following infection of A549 cells for Env-specific protein expression and for posttranslational transport to the cell surface as monitored by the binding of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs). The capacity of the Ad4Env vaccines to induce humoral immunity was evaluated in rabbits for Env gp140 and V1V2-specific binding antibodies, and HIV-1 pseudovirus neutralization. Mice immunized with the Ad4Env160 vaccine were assessed for IFNγ T cell responses specific for overlapping Env peptide sets.
Results
Robust Env protein expression was confirmed by western blot analysis and recognition of cell surface Env gp160 by multiple bNAbs. Ad4Env vaccines induced humoral immune responses in rabbits that recognized Env 1086 gp140 and V1V2 polypeptide sequences derived from 1086 clade C, A244 clade AE, and gp70 V1V2 CASE A2 clade B fusion protein. The immune sera efficiently neutralized tier 1 clade C pseudovirus MW965.26 and neutralized the homologous and heterologous tier 2 pseudoviruses to a lesser extent. Env-specific T cell responses were also induced in mice following Ad4Env160 vector immunization.
Conclusions
The Ad4Env vaccine vectors express high levels of Env glycoprotein and induce both Env-specific humoral and cellular immunity thus supporting further development of this new Ad4 HIV-1 Env vaccine platform in Phase 1 clinical trials.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082380
PMCID: PMC3849430  PMID: 24312658
21.  Mucosal Immunization of Lactating Female Rhesus Monkeys with a Transmitted/Founder HIV-1 Envelope Induces Strong Env-Specific IgA Antibody Responses in Breast Milk 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(12):6986-6999.
We previously demonstrated that vaccination of lactating rhesus monkeys with a DNA prime/vector boost strategy induces strong T-cell responses but limited envelope (Env)-specific humoral responses in breast milk. To improve vaccine-elicited antibody responses in milk, hormone-induced lactating rhesus monkeys were vaccinated with a transmitted/founder (T/F) HIV Env immunogen in a prime-boost strategy modeled after the moderately protective RV144 HIV vaccine. Lactating rhesus monkeys were intramuscularly primed with either recombinant DNA (n = 4) or modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) poxvirus vector (n = 4) expressing the T/F HIV Env C.1086 and then boosted twice intramuscularly with C.1086 gp120 and the adjuvant MF59. The vaccines induced Env-binding IgG and IgA as well as neutralizing and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) responses in plasma and milk of most vaccinated animals. Importantly, plasma neutralization titers against clade C HIV variants MW965 (P = 0.03) and CAP45 (P = 0.04) were significantly higher in MVA-primed than in DNA-primed animals. The superior systemic prime-boost regimen was then compared to a mucosal-boost regimen, in which animals were boosted twice intranasally with C.1086 gp120 and the TLR 7/8 agonist R848 following the same systemic prime. While the systemic and mucosal vaccine regimens elicited comparable levels of Env-binding IgG antibodies, mucosal immunization induced significantly stronger Env-binding IgA responses in milk (P = 0.03). However, the mucosal regimen was not as potent at inducing functional IgG responses. This study shows that systemic MVA prime followed by either intranasal or systemic protein boosts can elicit strong humoral responses in breast milk and may be a useful strategy to interrupt postnatal HIV-1 transmission.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00528-13
PMCID: PMC3676124  PMID: 23596289
22.  Impact of HIV-1 Backbone on Neutralization Sensitivity: Neutralization Profiles of Heterologous Envelope Glycoproteins Expressed in Native Subtype C and CRF01_AE Backbone 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e76104.
Standardized assays to assess vaccine and antiviral drug efficacy are critical for the development of protective HIV-1 vaccines and drugs. These immune assays will be advanced by the development of standardized viral stocks, such as HIV-1 infectious molecular clones (IMC), that i) express a reporter gene, ii) are representative of globally diverse subtypes and iii) are engineered to easily exchange envelope (env) genes for expression of sequences of interest. Thus far, a subtype B IMC backbone expressing Renilla luciferase (LucR), and into which the ectodomain of heterologous env coding sequences can be expressed has been successfully developed but as execution of HIV-1 vaccine efficacy trials shifts increasingly to non-subtype B epidemics (Southern African and Southeast Asia), non-subtype B HIV-1 reagents are needed to support vaccine development. Here we describe two IMCs derived from subtypes C and CRF01_AE HIV-1 primary isolates expressing LucR (IMC.LucR) that were engineered to express heterologous gp160 Envs. 18 constructs expressing various subtypes C and CRF01_AE Envs, mostly acute, in subtype-matched and –unmatched HIV backbones were tested for functionality and neutralization sensitivity. Our results suggest a possible effect of non-env HIV-1 genes on the interaction of Env and neutralizing antibodies and highlight the need to generate a library of IMCs representative of the HIV-1 subtype spectrum to be used as standardized neutralization assay reagents for assessing HIV-1 vaccine efficacy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076104
PMCID: PMC3843658  PMID: 24312165
23.  Detection of HIV-1 Neutralizing Antibodies in a Human CD4+/CXCR4+/CCR5+ T-Lymphoblastoid Cell Assay System 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e77756.
Sensitive assays are needed to meaningfully assess low levels of neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) that may be important for protection against the acquisition of HIV-1 infection in vaccine recipients. The current assay of choice uses a non-lymphoid cell line (TZM-bl) that may lack sensitivity owing to over expression of CD4 and CCR5. We used transfection of a human CD4+/CXCR4+/α4β7+ T-lymphoblastoid cell line (A3.01) with a CMV IE promoter-driven CCR5neo vector to stably express CCR5. The resulting line, designated A3R5, is permissive to a wide range of CCR5-tropic circulating strains of HIV-1, including HIV-1 molecular clones containing a Tat-inducible Renilla luciferase reporter gene and expressing multiple Env subtypes. Flow cytometric analysis found CCR5 surface expression on A3R5 cells to be markedly less than TZM-bl but similar to CD3.8 stimulated PBMC. More importantly, neutralization mediated by a diverse panel of monoclonal antibodies, HIV-1 positive polyclonal sera and sCD4 was consistently greater in A3R5 compared to TZM-bl cells. The A3R5 cell line provides a novel approach to guide the development and qualification of promising new HIV-1 vaccine immunogens.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077756
PMCID: PMC3842913  PMID: 24312168
24.  The Thai Phase III HIV Type 1 Vaccine Trial (RV144) Regimen Induces Antibodies That Target Conserved Regions Within the V2 Loop of gp120 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2012;28(11):1444-1457.
Abstract
The Thai Phase III clinical trial (RV144) showed modest efficacy in preventing HIV-1 acquisition. Plasma collected from HIV-1-uninfected trial participants completing all injections with ALVAC-HIV (vCP1521) prime and AIDSVAX B/E boost were tested for antibody responses against HIV-1 gp120 envelope (Env). Peptide microarray analysis from six HIV-1 subtypes and group M consensus showed that vaccination induced antibody responses to the second variable (V2) loop of gp120 of multiple subtypes. We further evaluated V2 responses by ELISA and surface plasmon resonance using cyclic (Cyc) and linear V2 loop peptides. Thirty-one of 32 vaccine recipients tested (97%) had antibody responses against Cyc V2 at 2 weeks postimmunization with a reciprocal geometric mean titer (GMT) of 1100 (range: 200–3200). The frequency of detecting plasma V2 antibodies declined to 19% at 28 weeks post-last injection (GMT: 110, range: 100–200). Antibody responses targeted the mid-region of the V2 loop that contains conserved epitopes and has the amino acid sequence KQKVHALFYKLDIVPI (HXB2 Numbering sequence 169–184). Valine at position 172 was critical for antibody binding. The frequency of V3 responses at 2 weeks postimmunization was modest (18/32, 56%) with a GMT of 185 (range: 100–800). In contrast, naturally infected HIV-1 individuals had a lower frequency of antibody responses to V2 (10/20, 50%; p=0.003) and a higher frequency of responses to V3 (19/20, 95%), with GMTs of 400 (range: 100–3200) and 3570 (range: 200–12,800), respectively. RV144 vaccination induced antibodies that targeted a region of the V2 loop that contains conserved epitopes. Early HIV-1 transmission events involve V2 loop interactions, raising the possibility that anti-V2 antibodies in RV144 may have contributed to viral inhibition.
doi:10.1089/aid.2012.0103
PMCID: PMC3484815  PMID: 23035746
25.  IL-12 DNA as molecular vaccine adjuvant increases the cytotoxic T cell responses and breadth of humoral immune responses in SIV DNA vaccinated macaques 
Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics  2012;8(11):1620-1629.
Intramuscular injection of macaques with an IL-12 expression plasmid (0.1 or 0.4 mg DNA/animal) optimized for high level of expression and delivered using in vivo electroporation, resulted in the detection of systemic IL-12 cytokine in the plasma. Peak levels obtained by day 4–5 post injection were paralleled by a rapid increase of IFN-γ, indicating bioactivity of the IL-12 cytokine. Both plasma IL-12 and IFN-γ levels were reduced to basal levels by day 14, indicating a short presence of elevated levels of the bioactive IL-12. The effect of IL-12 as adjuvant together with an SIVmac239 DNA vaccine was further examined comparing two groups of rhesus macaques vaccinated in the presence or absence of IL-12 DNA. The IL-12 DNA-adjuvanted group developed significantly higher SIV-specific cellular immune responses, including IFN-γ+ Granzyme B+ T cells, demonstrating increased levels of vaccine-induced T cells with cytotoxic potential, and this difference persisted for 6 mo after the last vaccination. Coinjection of IL-12 DNA led to increases in Gag-specific CD4+ and CD4+CD8+ double-positive memory T cell subsets, whereas the Env-specific increases were mainly mediated by the CD8+ and CD4+CD8+ double-positive memory T cell subsets. The IL-12 DNA-adjuvanted vaccine group developed higher binding antibody titers to Gag and mac251 Env, and showed higher and more durable neutralizing antibodies to heterologous SIVsmE660. Therefore, co-delivery of IL-12 DNA with the SIV DNA vaccine enhanced the magnitude and breadth of immune responses in immunized rhesus macaques, and supports the inclusion of IL-12 DNA as vaccine adjuvant.
doi:10.4161/hv.21407
PMCID: PMC3601136  PMID: 22894956
in vivo electroporation; HIV; SIVsmE660; SIVmac239; antibody; neutralizing antibody; avidity; central memory; transitional memory; effector memory

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